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International Ban Asbestos Secretariat

International Ban Asbestos Secretariat

lkaz@btconnect.com

 

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Nov 13, 2018

On November 12, 2018, schools minister Nick Gibbs admitted that the failure of schools to submit information about asbestos management at their premises has pushed back publication of the school asbestos survey until Spring 2019, too late for this information to influence the comprehensive spending review which will allocate funds for schools in 2020. He said: “Seventy-seven per cent of schools have responded so far, but we expect all state-funded schools and academies to participate, so we have re-opened the assurance process from today until February 2019, to give them a further opportunity to do so.” See: DfE re-opens asbestos survey after thousands of schools fail to respond.

Nov 13, 2018

As the implementation of Canadian ban asbestos regulations looms, the country begins the struggle of addressing widespread contamination of the national infrastructure, with a recent example being the discovery of asbestos “on various surfaces” in a hanger in Newfoundland used by military search and rescue helicopter crews. According to the Department of National Defence, the crews’ operations have been relocated to other premises at St. John’s airport while asbestos remediation work is carried out. See: Asbestos in Newfoundland hangar forces move of RCAF search and rescue crews.

Nov 13, 2018

Efforts continue to derail plans to ban chrysotile asbestos roofing products in Vietnam by 2023, as shown by industry and government submissions to a November 3, 2018 asbestos hearing of the National Assembly Committee on Science, Technology and Environment. Standard industry rhetoric calling for more data to prove occupational asbestos exposures caused disease and death was wielded by vested interests. A spokeswoman for Vietnam Red Cross seemed to support objections to the ban asking why Vietnam was banning chrysotile asbestos when lead and mercury remained in use. See: Roadmap to cease the use of chrysotile – Many unresolved issues.

Nov 9, 2018

Legal proceedings brought by ban asbestos campaigners in London have ended with the campaigners receiving substantial damages and costs from K2 Intelligence Ltd. (K2) whose Executive Managing Director Matteo Bigazzi hired an operative Robert Moore to spy on them for clients representing asbestos interests in Kazakhstan. For over a year, K2 refused to reveal the identities of their clients but in March 2017, they were named as: Wetherby Select Ltd., a holding company registered in the British Virgin Islands, and Kazakh national Nurlan Omarov and US citizen Daniel Kunin, both of whom were “directly involved in Kazakhstan’s asbestos industry.” See: Corporate intelligence agency pays substantial damages over claim for spying [English original] or [version Française].

Nov 9, 2018

A commentary describing the repercussions of the import of asbestos products to Australia – despite the country’s ban – condemns the government’s failure to fully implement the 26 recommendations made in November 2017 by the Senate Inquiry into Non-Conforming Building Products, designed to curb the inflow of asbestos products. Existing levels of financial penalties were far too low to act as a deterrent to large building companies and the failure to impose a mandatory certification scheme ensuring asbestos-free imports was a serious mistake. See: Federal Government Falls Short on Stopping Asbestos Imports.

Nov 5, 2018

Last week, scientists from Kazakhstan presented evidence defending the safe use of chrysotile (asbestos) at an international conference in Karaganda, the country’s 4th biggest city. A resolution adopted at the meeting is being sent to six government ministries. Five thousand people are employed by the asbestos sector in Kazakhstan and the benefits of the industry are shared, speakers at this event alleged, by the 40,000 residents of Zhitikary City, where the mine is located, in the Kostanay region. It was claimed that no cases of asbestos-related diseases have been diagnosed in the country. See: Казахстанские ученые встали на защиту месторождения хризотил-асбеста [Kazakhstani scientists defend chrysotile asbestos].

Nov 5, 2018

An 18-page document published on October 31, 2018 by the Health and Safety Executive entitled “Asbestos-related diseases in Great Britain, 2018” provided updated data for mesothelioma and asbestosis Industrial Injuries Disablement (IIDB) cases (2017), and asbestosis deaths (2016). The mesothelioma mortality figures for 2016 reported in this publication were the ones first released in July 2018 and confirmed that the national epidemic shows no sign of abating: in 2016, 2,595 people died from mesothelioma, a 2% increase on the figure (2,542) for 2015. See: Asbestos-related diseases in Great Britain, 2018.

Nov 5, 2018

The June 2018 article referenced below is a scathing and incisive commentary on the multiplicity of ways US vested interests are progressing corporate profits at the expense of asbestos victims. Highlighted in this piece was the work of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Draft ALEC legislation to restrict the legal rights of dying asbestos victims found favour amongst Republican politicians including Missouri state Rep. Bruce DeGroot and others of his ilk in Ohio, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Arizona, Texas, Utah, Tennessee, South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa, Mississippi, Michigan, Kansas, and North Carolina. See: ALEC’s Deadly Asbestos Agenda Benefits Koch Industries, Nationwide.

Nov 5, 2018

A warning has been given by officials from the Kenyan Government over tremolite asbestos in thermos flasks being sold in the country. Samples of the products, which had been imported from Asia, were submitted for testing on September 21. A government spokesman reported that asbestos fibers were present between the flasks’ glass walls. Although no brand names were provided in this article, similar products had been recalled in Europe due to asbestos contamination; in almost all cases, the recalled goods had been manufactured in China. See: Beware: Cancer-Causing Elements Found in Thermos Flasks.

Oct 31, 2018

Asbestos bankruptcy trusts, which since the 1980s paid out more than $17 billion to millions of US victims suffering from asbestos-related diseases, are being attacked by the Trump administration which is alleging that they lack sufficient safeguards and allow fraudulent claims to succeed. In the last two months, the Justice Department launched a civil investigation pursuant to which it demanded the submission of trust documents and opposed the creation of another trust, citing insufficient information about “how asbestos claims will be evaluated, paid and reported" and how fraud would be prevented. See: US steps up scrutiny of funds for asbestos exposure victims.

Oct 31, 2018

Amongst the industrial sectors which will revive the economy of Zimbabwe is the asbestos industry, according to recent pronouncements by Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando. The Minister said that the country’s premier asbestos manufacturer – Turnall Holdings Ltd. – is now obtaining raw asbestos from the Shabanie-Mashava Mines where work is ongoing to reclaim asbestos fiber by processing mining waste. According to Chitando: “De-watering of Mashava Mine will be done by December (and) the mine will start producing in the first quarter next year. Shabani Mine will start producing by 2020.” See: Mining sector girds loins for 2030…US$12bn revenues targeted.

Oct 29, 2018

The Ukrainian language commentary referenced below was uploaded on October 22, 2018; it examines economic factors and political dynamics which have prevented Ukraine from enacting ban asbestos regulations in accordance with EU legislation and as was mandated in 2017 by the Ministry of Health (MoH). As litigation by the MoH proceeds through the Ukraine courts to reinstate the asbestos ban, the author of this article asks: “How long will Ukrainians remain hostage to the business interests of representatives of the asbestos lobby?” See: Заручники азбесту: мовчазна загроза здоров’ю нації [Asbestos: a silent threat to the health of the nation].

Oct 29, 2018

The launch of the book by Marci Grasso and Marcello Zinola entitled “The Silent Massacre,” will take place on October 29 in the San Salvatore Hall of the University of Genoa; the book is about the ten year battle to obtain justice for workers injured by asbestos in Genoa. The authors detail their investigation of documents and interviews with victims, family members, trade unionists and labor leaders. See: “La strage silenziosa,” lunedì la presentazione del libro sull'amianto [“The silent massacre,” a book on asbestos to be launched on Monday].

Oct 29, 2018

A paper published this month (October 2018) detailed efforts by a UK mesothelioma charity to break down barriers to communication between mesothelioma patients, their carers and researchers. The authors described arrangements for activities on Action Mesothelioma Day in 2016-2018 and the feedback from participants which suggested that this fusion “of speed-dating… and the Dragon’s Den” created an environment more conducive to disseminating information through discourse and questions than a traditional format, where experts made Powerpoint presentations. See: Meet the researchers: an alternative method of engaging patients with research in mesothelioma.

Oct 29, 2018

Monitoring carried out by the Tuscan Water Authority of water delivered via the 2,000 kilometer of pipes in the aqueduct system has revealed high levels of asbestos fibers in the water; up to 59 samples taken from 33 municipalities were contaminated. Local councillors are calling for the replacement of asbestos pipework and a regional study on the effects on human health of asbestos carried in water. See: Trovate fibre di amianto nell'acqua che passa nei tubi dell'acquedotto [Asbestos fibers found in the water that passes into the aqueduct pipes].

Oct 26, 2018

The presence of asbestos in paint has been confirmed in 38 metro cars operated by the Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona (TMB); 100+ cars have yet to be tested. The decision by the company to keep the affected cars in service until the end of their useful life was criticized on October 24, 2018 by a specialist in risk prevention who pointed out that the company’s reassurances that the contamination posed “no risk,” was unfounded. See: El Colectivo Ronda carga contra TMB por mantener convoyes con amianto: “Es una grave irresponsabilidad” [The Ronda Collective charges TMB for keeping convoys with asbestos: “It is a serious irresponsibility”].

Nov 1, 2018

On October 29, 2018, a bill prohibiting the sale or distribution of asbestos-containing products was unanimously adopted by the New Jersey Assembly. Sponsors of the bill condemned the federal rollback on asbestos protections and declared their determination to protect people in New Jersey from lethal exposures with the bill’s sponsor Assemblywoman Lisa Swain saying: “There is absolutely no reason why any New Jerseyans should be at risk of asbestos exposure… While the current Administration in Washington may be okay with rolling back environmental health standards that protect so many Americans, here in New Jersey we are not, and this bill ensures we will stay proactive in protecting our residents.” [Read full article]

Oct 31, 2018

On October 28, 2018, personnel from leading environmental NGOs joined with municipal and government representatives in Nepal to assess the current situation regarding the effectiveness of legislation banning the import and use of asbestos-containing goods. Although government data shows a dramatic reduction of asbestos imports, more needs to be done to protect people in Nepal from hazardous exposures both to new products but also to asbestos products incorporated within the national infrastructure. Of particular interest was the input from customs officers who are on the front line in preventing the import of more asbestos goods and from civil servants tasked with developing new protocols for the identification of toxic goods. [Read full article]

Oct 19, 2018

This Media Release by a number of labor federations and civil society associations has been uploaded to the IBAS website with the permission of its authors.
 
(Other responses to the sea change in Canadian federal policy on asbestos include a statement by President of the Canadian Labour Congress Hassan Yussuff [see: Canada’s unions applaud asbestos ban regulations]: “This is a critical step on the long road to banning asbestos, and will, without a doubt save lives for generations to come.”)
 
 
[Read full article]

Oct 17, 2018

Recent efforts by grassroots groups and medical associations to address Indonesia’s asbestos challenges are discussed in this article with a focus on a medical seminar held in Jakarta on October 13, 2018 to raise awareness of asbestos-related diseases. During that session, medical experts from Indonesia and Korea reviewed the categories and causes of asbestos-related diseases and discussed state-of-the-art protocols for making diagnoses of these diseases. Concluding the seminar, Professor Jeung Sook Kim, a Korea specialist, highlighted the importance of cooperation between NGOs and scientists in the campaign to ban asbestos. [Read full article]

Oct 15, 2018

Former asbestos worker and founding member of the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA) João Batista Momi died in Sao Paulo on October 14, 2018 from asbestosis, a disease he contracted from toxic exposures at the Eternit factory in Osasco. Mr. Momi’s pioneering lawsuit against Eternit took 12 years at the civil court – at that time the only court which could hear claims for injuries caused by toxic occupational exposures. In 1998 he was awarded more than 150,000 reais (equivalent in 1998 to US$150,000) for his injuries; the company appealed. After a 2004 constitutional amendment allowed Labour Courts to hear these cases, Mr. Momi received his compensation. [Read full article]

Oct 2, 2018

From the northeast of Brazil to the streets of West Java via a community center in the Northern Cape Provence of South Africa, Autumn 2018 has seen a burgeoning of activities to mobilize support for the asbestos-injured and demand the implementation of environmental remediation programs and national asbestos prohibitions. Members of asbestos victims’ groups, ban asbestos activists, health and safety campaigners, trade unionists, legal practitioners and medical professionals raised the asbestos profile at international conferences, strategy sessions, local meetings and outreach projects in Latin America, North America, Europe and Asia. It is no longer a question of “if” but of “when” asbestos will finally be consigned to the history books. [Read full article]

Sep 20, 2018

Just weeks after the South Asia Asbestos Strategy Meeting took place in Sri Lanka, 100+ delegates from Vietnam and ten other countries – eight of which are members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations – met at the second annual conference of the Southeast Asia Ban Asbestos Network in Hanoi, Vietnam to progress plans for achieving regional asbestos prohibitions. The conference, broadcast live on GTV multimedia channels, took place on September 13 and 14, 2018 and raised the profile of the struggle to ban asbestos in Vietnam via widespread TV coverage, newspaper articles and social media posts. Speakers lambasted the government’s continued failure to ban asbestos, blaming pressure from local and foreign vested interests. [Read full article]

Sep 19, 2018

Media reports of a warning by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) that large numbers of military engineers and former military engineers could have been exposed to asbestos whilst servicing Sea King helicopters highlight not only the historic exposure to asbestos our military personnel have faced, but also the ongoing risks that exist from asbestos that remains in situ. The alert also points once again to an arguable failure of government to fully and appropriately address all of the issues asbestos continues to pose including the access to compensation by injured service personnel. [Read full article]

Sep 13, 2018

On August 18, 2018, West Australian (WA) asbestos campaigners gathered at Perth’s Solidarity Park, across the street from the WA Parliament, to remember the thousands of people whose lives had been lost due to occupational and environmental exposures received at the infamous Wittenoom asbestos mine. Nearly a month later, members of the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia – co-organizers of the August event – will revisit the memorial plaque unveiled during this earlier gathering when they reach the end of the Society’s annual walk to raise asbestos research funds and heighten public awareness about the asbestos hazard. [Read full article]

Aug 6, 2018

A report entitled Chlorine and Building Materials - A Global Inventory of Production Technologies, Markets, and Pollution released at the end of July 2018 provided a wealth of information on the actions of chlorine producers in Africa, the Americas and Europe. Acting individually and/or in concert with other vested interests, companies such as Dow Chemical and Olin Corporation and trade associations including Euro Chlor and the American Chemistry Council lobbied state agencies, national governments and regional bodies on three continents over decades to maintain a status quo which procured them large financial rewards despite huge societal costs and deadly consequences for human health and the environment. [Read full article]

Jul 18, 2018

Once upon a time, photograph albums held the memories of generations of families; important days and events were marked by black and white and then colour photographs which were taken, processed and mounted for safe-keeping. Those days are long gone with most images now stored somewhere in the cloud or on phones or hard drives. Some may call us old school, but we could think of no better way of reflecting the optimism, support and engagement of groups all over the UK who joined as one on July 6, 2018 to observe the Annual Mesothelioma Action Day than uploading a selection of photographs in which fellowship and commonality of purpose shine through. [Read full article]

Jul 13, 2018

Children and staff from 11 local schools took part in an asbestos awareness workshop organised by the Asbestos Interest Group (A.I.G), a campaigning body in a former asbestos mining area on South Africa’s annual Youth Day (June 16). Feedback from participants has been positive with children having enjoyed meeting up with pupils from other schools to learn about the impact of asbestos contamination of their towns. A report written by A.I.G’s Prudence Kotoloane is informative as well as inspiring – workshop facilitators organized outdoor games to keep the children “awake and energetic.” The International Ban Asbestos Secretariat is proud to be a co-sponsor of this and other events organized by the A.I.G. [Read full article]

Jul 12, 2018

Participants from Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Philippines, the US and Japan attended the two-day 2018 South Asia Asbestos Strategy Meeting which took place in Negombo, on the west coast of Sri Lanka, on July 10 and 11, 2018. On the agenda were updates about current national situations highlighting successful strategies and ongoing challenges. Of great interest to international delegates were presentations by Sri Lanka colleagues who provided a wealth of information on current developments and announced that plans for national prohibitions of asbestos had not been abandoned. [Read full article]

Jul 2, 2018

The annual Parliamentary Asbestos Seminar took place on June 26, 2018 in Committee Room 14 of the House of Commons. As always this event, held under the auspices of the Asbestos Sub-Committee of the All-party Group on Occupational Health and Safety, offered the opportunity for Members of Parliament to hear about a diverse range of global asbestos developments from people working on the asbestos frontline. During the two-hour session, first-hand testimony was provided regarding challenges faced by UK asbestos cancer sufferers, progress being made by British mesothelioma researchers, asbestos legacy issues at brownfield sites, the campaign by the Asbestos in Schools Group and the tragic consequences of asbestos consumption in India. [Read full article]

Jun 22, 2018

An authoritative audit of UK mesothelioma cancer care of 7,000+ individuals between 2014 and 2016 contains both good and bad news. During the period in question, more mesothelioma patients in England and Wales received active treatment – i.e. anti-cancer treatment with chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery or a combination of the three – than previously. Unfortunately, only 7% of patients survived for three years post-diagnosis. Recommendations made by the authors included suggestions to: improve the quality of data collection, conduct surgical survival audits, provide better information to guide patients’ treatment decisions and ensure patient referrals to clinical trials outside their areas. [Read full article]

Jun 18, 2018

On June 11, 2018, the District Administrative Court of Kiev published its decision in the case brought by Ukraine’s Ministry of Health (MoH) over the quashing by the Ministry of Justice and the State Regulatory Service (SRS) of 2017 MoH regulations ending the use of asbestos in Ukraine. The ruling of the three-judge panel upheld the human rights of Ukrainians to live a life free from asbestos exposure. A Ukrainian campaigner called this decision “an indisputable victory” by the Ministry of Health of Ukraine and its supporters and pledged to continue the struggle “to achieve a total asbestos ban in Ukraine such as that which exists in other European countries.” [Read full article]

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Demonstration in Woluwe Park, Brussels, 2006

Under cloudy skies, members of Belgian and French Asbestos Victims' Associations from Dunkirk and Bourgogne marched side-by-side in the third annual demonstration organized by ABEVA, the Belgian Association of Asbestos Victims. Erik Jonckheere, ABEVA's Co-chairman, condemned the government which still refuses to recognize the plight of the asbestos injured.

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Asbestos Trade Data (2015)

Fiber Producers
(tonnes):
   Russia650,000
   Brazil270,000
   China210,000
   Kazakhstan180,000
    
 Top Five Users
(tonnes):
   India370,000
   China287,000
   Brazil163,000
   Russia124,000
   Indonesia120,000